Being a student of History and Polity, I thought, I knew a lot about Gandhi ji. But on a recent trip to Kausani dubbed as ‘Switzerland of India’ by Gandhi ji himself, I came across one more hitherto unknown-to-me facet of Gandhi ji, that he was a great admirer and lover of nature. On an invitation of his tea garden owner friend, he had come to Kausani in June 1929. He had come for few days only to write about chapter on Anasakti Yog, as a part of his commentary on Bhagwadgeeta. He stayed at the guest house in Kausani, owned by his friend. The location of this guest house was just opposite to snow laden Nanda Devi and other important peaks of Himalaya. Being a great lover of nature, he was so mesmerized and bowled over by the beauty and the views of Himalaya, that he decided to overstay there for more than two weeks ( this was the time of very important political upheavals). He wrote letters to his secretary and friend Mahadev Desai and others, eulogizing beauty of Himalaya in great literary style, some of which are reproduced (as shown below) on the outer walls of the outhouse, now known as Anasakti Ashram.
This outhouse he lived in, was later transferred to Gandhi Smarak Trust by Sucheta Kriplani, the then chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. It has been since preserved as a tribute to life and teachings of Gandhi Ji. His teachings as well as some rare photographs are portrayed inside the ashram.
The part of Ashram is also used as a guest house for tourists. It was interesting to note that this facility is accessed through an ordinary letter addressed to the the trust at Kausani and for just 450 Rs. You can call the smarak office and they will book a room without any advances etc. I noticed many Bengali speaking men and women visiting and staying at this place following this method.
The scenery around the place is so serene and beautiful that once you are there, you would easily understand that why did Gadhi Ji overstayed at this place and why did he call Kausani, ‘The Switzerland Of India’. Gandhi Ji’s description of pure white snow laden mountains in then Hindi, will simply bowl you over as much as the beauty of Himalayas itself. I think, I was extremely lucky to be there as a visitor, 86 years after Gandhi ji, visited this gem of nature.